Govt panel for hiking FDI limits in retail, telecom
New Delhi: A government panel Tuesday proposed raising foreign investment limits in sectors like defence, multi-brand retail and telecommunications, to spur investment in the country and tide over the Current Account Deficit woes.
"We have submitted the report to the Finance Minister. Action will be taken on it as and when the government decides. Policy is with DIPP so finally they will take a call. This is just our recommendation," Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram told reporters here.
The committee, which was set up by Finance Minister P Chidambaram to review the sectoral caps, has suggested that the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) ceiling in the defence sector be raised to 49 percent under the government approval route from 26 percent at present.
In order to make multi-brand retail more attractive to foreign investors, the panel suggested that the FDI limit be raised to 74 percent under the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) route from 51 percent.
In case of single-brand retail, it suggested easing of the norms by advocating 49 percent investment under the automatic route. Currently, the government allows 100 percent FDI under the approval route.
Similarly in case of pharmaceuticals sector, the committee recommended 49 percent under automatic route as against 100 percent under the government approval route.
As regards the telecom sector, the Mayaram panel said that 100 percent FDI be allowed under the FIPB route as against 74 percent. It wanted the government to retain 49 percent FDI under automatic route in the telecom sector.
The proposal, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) secretary Saurabh Chandra said, would be circulated among the ministries for their comments.
The proposed policy, sources said, will be discussed among top ministries during the first week of July.
The relaxation in foreign investment caps is aimed at check the widening CAD which is estimated to be 5 percent of the GDP in 2012-13 as against the Reserve Bank's comfort level level of 2.5 percent.
In case of insurance sector, the Mayaram panel said, the investment cap be raised to 49 percent from 26 percent within the norms of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
The panel has recommended easing of foreign investment norms in the public sector banks. It said that FDI up to 49 percent in PSU banks be allowed under the automatic route as against 20 percent with prior approval of the FIPB.
Such investment should be in conformity with the Reserve Bank norms and new definition of 'control' to be worked out by the government.
In tea sector including tea plantation, the committee proposes that FDI be allowed up to 49 percent under the automatic route as against 100 percent under the FIPB route.
In case of petroleum refining by the Public Sector Undertakings (PSU), the committee said foreign investment up to 49 percent allowed under the automatic route. Currently foreign investors are required to seek approval of FIPB for investments up to 49 percent.
As regard print media, the panel suggested that FDI ceiling be raised to 49 percent under the automatic route as against 26 percent under the approval route.
In order to encourage foreign investment in asset reconstruction companies (ARCs), the committee said FDI cap be increased to 100 percent under the FIPB route and up to 49 percent under the automatic route. Presently, 74 percent is allowed under the FIPB route.
Commodity and power exchanges may be allowed investment up to 49 percent under automatic route as against the FIPB route.
In stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations, the panel suggested that FDI up to 49 percent be allowed under the automatic route as against FIPB route within the SEBI Regulations.
In case of establishment and operations of satellite services, the panel recommended that FDI up to 49 percent be allowed under the automatic route and up to 74 percent under FIPB route.
As regards courier services, the Mayaram panel said FDI up to 100 percent be allowed under automatic route as against FIPB route.
In the civil aviation sector, the committee suggested 100 percent FDI in non-scheduled air transport services under the automatic route as against 49 percent.